For anyone coming up on their high school graduation, finishing up their gap year, or contemplating a career change, choosing a post-secondary program can be daunting.
Deciding what you want to do with your life can seem like an impossible task for some, while others have a crystal clear vision of where they see themselves in the future.
If you’ve found your way to this article, you obviously have made the decision to pursue a further education in accounting. However, the decision-making is not over yet. Now that you’ve got the hard part of choosing what to do over with, it’s time to buckle down, do your research, and choose where.
You may just automatically default to your hometown university because it’s close and easy, or you may have your eyes on one of the countries Ivy League schools; either way, you shouldn’t count out other options quite yet.
To help you understand your options a bit better, we’ve given a brief overview of some considerations to make when choosing a post-secondary institution in the US and have further outlined the 10 most affordable accounting schools in the country.
Choosing A Post-Secondary Route in the US
The United States is one of the most expensive countries in the world in terms of post-secondary education costs.
When taking affordability into consideration, the first thing you should look into is public vs. private universities.
Public universities in the US are funded mainly by the state governments. Due to the fact that the state governments cover most of the operating costs for these institutions, tuition to attend public universities is significantly lower than that of private universities.
One thing to note about tuition costs for public universities is that, although they are lower than private universities, they vary for in-state and out-of-state students, and the difference is quite significant. On average, completing a 4-year degree at a public university will cost around $20,770/year for an in-state student, and around $35,420/year for an out-of-state student.
*Out-of-state encompasses both American students from other states as well as international students. It is important to take note that in-state students are admitted in greater numbers in state funded public universities.
Not only do public universities offer more affordable than their private counterparts, they also offer a wider range of programs, again due to the state funding. This includes a more diverse range of programs as well as more specialty programs.
Larger program offerings and lower tuition fees typically equate to one thing: large student bodies.
Public universities have much higher attendance, up to ten’s of thousands even, than private universities. They have larger campuses, and more often than not offer an exciting variety of extracurricular student activities, clubs, and teams.
First and foremost, private universities have significantly higher tuition fees than public universities because their cost of operating is funded solely by students’ tuition and private donations.
This equates to an average annual tuition cost of approximately $46,950/year to complete a 4-year degree at a private university.
Unlike public universities, state residency does not matter at private universities, meaning if you are applying from out-of-state you do not pay higher tuition and you may have a better shot at acceptance.
Although these universities are more expensive, there are definitely advantages to studying at a private institution.
Partially due to their lower funding, private universities are much smaller. They do not offer as diverse of a program range as public universities do, but instead often have particular academic focuses; specializing in certain areas of study, such as the performing arts (for example: Julliard) or technology (for example: MIT).
Being a smaller institution also equates to smaller class size. Whereas a public university can see up to 200 (or more) students in one lecture, private university class sizes never get that high.
Smaller lectures often provide more intimate and interactive learning experiences, a better platform for making connections with peers (hello networking!), and even getting extra help from your professor if need be.
It’s Up To You
As you can see, both public and private post-secondary institutions come with their fair share of pros and cons.
The type of school that will best fit you depends on your budget, learning style, and desired environment.
As budget is, unfortunately, the major kicker for majority of students, we have put together the following list, detailing the 10 most affordable accounting schools across the US.
Do Your Research
The US is home to over 2600 accredited 4-year program universities and colleges. Your options are essentially endless; with a little bit of research you should be able to find the school and program that are perfect for you and your post-secondary needs.
1. Brigham Young University
BYU, located in Provo, Utah, is a private university that is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. BYU is home to 33,500 students from across 50 states and 105 different countries.
Their accounting program consists of two years of general requirements and prerequisites, followed by two years of core courses.
Program Costs: $10,300/year.
2. Dalton State University
Dalton State is a public university located in Dalton, Georgia. Although Dalton State targets Bachelor Degree programs, they also offer a variety of associates degrees and career certificate programs.
Dalton State offers a 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a focus in Accounting.
Program Costs: $12,314/year.
3. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri, located just south of Kansas City in a town called Warrensburg, is a public university founded in 1871 that is now serving over 12,000 students.
They offer a Bachelor of Science in Accounting program where students focus on three major areas: Professional Accounting Knowledge, Professional Accounting Skills, and Professional Orientation.
Program Costs: $12,891/year.
4. Missouri State University
Missouri State, with their main campus located in Springfield, is the second largest university in Missouri, catering to over 26,000 students. They have 7 academic colleges and 1 Graduate College, offering over 180 bachelor degree options and over 100 graduate degree options.
Their accounting program can be completed in either a 3 or 4-year option, with courses focused on accounting principles and business ethics.
Program Costs: $13,930/year.
5. Arkansas State University
Located in the city of Jonesboro, Arkansas State University is the second largest university in the state. Despite being home to over 14,000 students, they hold an average class size of just 29.
Their 4 year Bachelor of Science in Accounting program requires students to take two years of general courses and two years of core accounting courses. This variety will prepare students to work in a variety of industries and positions.
Program Costs: $14,050/year.
6. Eastern Washington University
EWU is a public university situated in the city of Cheney. EWU offers over 135 program options and is home to over 130 student clubs and organizations.
They offer a 4-year Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration degree, with which you can specialize in Professional Accounting. This degree requires students to take a mix of business-centered courses along with core accounting courses.
Program Costs: $14,305/year.
7. Central Washington University
CWU, a public university located in Ellensburg, offers over 135 areas of study over 8 separate campuses. CWU is home to over 11,000 students but retains intimate class sizes average only 20 students per class.
Their Bachelor of Science in Accounting program is the largest in their College of Business and is amongst the top 5 degrees awarded at the university.
Program Costs: $14,334/year.
8. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Clarion is a public university that became a college level institution in 1920. It is a smaller school, home to 5,600 students, situated in the town of Clarion, which itself is only home to 6,000 residents.
Clarion’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting, which is available both on campus and through online delivery, prepares students for careers in accounting, business, and law.
Program Costs: $14,460/year.
9. Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State is a public liberal arts university situated in Allendale, Michigan, with their main campus just outside of Grand Rapids. GVSU is home to over 25,000 students and offers 130 different degree options. Impressively, 93% of GVSU graduates are currently employed or pursuing higher education.
Grand Valley State offers a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, which covers a variety of course subjects such as accounting, taxation, and finance. Students can also continue on to their Master of Science in Accounting at GVSU if they wish.
Program Costs: $15,744/year.
10. Western Illinois University
Western Illinois University, located in the city of Macomb, was recently named “Best Midwestern College” by the Princeton Review. They offer a variety of Bachelors and Masters degree options, certificate programs, and doctoral degrees, as well as over 250 student organizations to choose from.
Students can take the 4-year Bachelor of Business in Accounting, which will prepare them for their CMA, or can elect to continue on 1 more year and earn their Master of Accountancy, which will prepare them for their CPA.
Program Costs: $15,911/year.
Time to Decide
Choosing where to attend post secondary school is a huge decision. Not only are you choosing where to spend the next 3-5 years of your life, but each school will offer different types of programs, which can affect your career, a much larger portion of your future.
Accounting is a largely in-demand program, and is therefore offered at majority of universities across the country.
To narrow down your search, we pulled together the 10 most affordable accounting schools across the US, not only to help you make a decision but to help you save a few dollars along the way.
While this decision may seem tough, if you choose the school and program best suited to you it should be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.
Then you just have to worry about finding a decent paying job to pay off those 3-5 years of university!